February 12th, 2009
06:11 PM ET
14 years ago

Senate Democrats optimistic about 2010, targeting nine states

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/12/art.menendez.gi.jpg caption=" Menendez is chairman of the DSCC."]

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Nearly two years before Election Day 2010, the Senate Democrat charged with expanding the party's already-strong majority sounded a bullish tone Thursday, suggesting the national mood and political environment make it nearly impossible for the GOP to pick up seats.

"The fear should be on the other side,” New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, told reporters in his first briefing since assuming the post formerly held by New York Sen. Chuck Schumer.

Menendez's unyielding optimism may seem surprising given how far out the elections remain, and the fact that the president's party historically loses seats in a midterm election, especially when that party controls both houses of Congress and the White House. The Democratic Party’s decades-long majority status in Congress ended with the first midterm of the Clinton presidency.

But Menendez noted five currently-held GOP seats are set to be vacated in 2010, most of them in traditional swing states: Florida, Ohio, Missouri, New Hampshire, Kansas. Meanwhile, no current Democratic senators have plans to retire, though the president's Cabinet appointments have technically left Colorado, New York, Illinois, and Delaware without an incumbent Democrat.

UPDATE: With New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg removing his name from consideration to be Commerce Secretary, New Hampshire may no longer be an open seat, though Gregg later said he 'probably' would not seek reelection.

Of those five states with outgoing GOP senators, Menendez said the fact that President Obama carried three of them handily and essentially tied Sen. John McCain in Missouri bodes well for Democrats in 2010. He also expressed optimism about Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' chances in that traditional red state should she decide to run there: "If Kathleen Sebelius runs, she will win," Menendez said.

The DSCC chief added a combination of local and national factors make four other Republican-held seats vulnerable - Louisiana,- North Carolina, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

Incumbent Republican senators are particularly vulnerable, Menendez said, because of their "Bush like" approach the nation's sputtering economy and overwhelming opposition to the White House-backed stimulus bill.

"They just don't get it," Menendez said of his Republican colleagues, "How many more people need to lose their jobs?"

Menendez indicated the committee will support all three Democratic appointees, should they decide to run in their own right - including Illinois Sen. Roland Burris, whom only 37 percent of Illinois voters say should run for the seat in 2010, according to a recent Chicago Tribune poll.

"I presume that any of the appointees who do decide to run will have the support of the committee," Menendez said of Burris.

Filed under: Bob Menendez • Senate
soundoff (563 Responses)
  1. TC

    Hey Romney 2012, were you complaining like this when Bush and his GOP cronies in Congress were spending like drunken sailors and blowing a huge hole in the federal surplus?

    February 12, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  2. Mitchell from MS

    Don't count your chickens before they hatch! I am predicting gains for the GOP!

    February 12, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  3. Patriot Guy

    The Democrats are sooooooo determined to destroy this country.......but 2010 may not be as rosey for them as they think. B.O. get old after a while.

    February 12, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  4. paul oregon

    2010 sounds just great. with the internet things will be quite different.

    February 12, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  5. Pete

    Why do Republicans feel so comfortable talking about needing to take up arms against the government?

    February 12, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  6. bob in LA

    Hey Democrats- it's 2009- strat doing your job NOW or maybe it wont be an issue in 2010.

    February 12, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  7. In Houston, TX

    The GOP is headed for self destruction and they don't know how to stop it. They can't figure out why poeple are not coming to the party and even more are leaving.
    The real issue with the GOP, the reason why they are falling apart is because of their fundamental beliefs. They have chosen the wrong side of every arguement since the 60's and now people are starting realize they were wrong...ON EVERYTHING! They started the anti intellectual movement. Why would you want to hire the guy you would want to have a beer with to run the country?!?
    Because Obama's campaign ran on hope and the GOP stands in natural opposition to the Dems, they became the party of no hope. And that is where they stand now. NO HOPE. The saddest part is their thick headed willful ignorance.
    GO GET 'EM DEMS! there is no hope for the GOP and they are not here to help the people.

    February 12, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  8. Hommer

    If we can still vote in 2010, Menendez and crew will be looking for caves to hide in when this "stimulus" package doesn't work. Going to be very hard to blame this on the Repubs...

    February 12, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  9. Independent_me

    I for one will be fasting and praying that the Dems get a fillibuster-proof majority.

    February 12, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  10. Matt

    Too funny. This a day after a poll was released that showed if the election were held today, the Democrats would lose their majority. It only took a month for people to see through both Hope and Change.

    Good luck in 2010! Unless you grow up, you're going to need it! Keep blaming everyone for your problems... I am sure THAT will get you elected.

    February 12, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. R in Maine

    It is an open seat already.

    February 12, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  12. Simpliticus

    Think about it! If Democrats do nothing, then the Republicans must stew in their own distress as to how to get reelected. These can hem and haw on this and that but the obvious decline is all too obvious. The key to the Republicans' decline is in the state of the economy. This is why Limbaugh and other right-wing idiots are trying to call this problem the Obama Recession when all of this occurred on Bush's watch and since the Republicans had full sway over six of the eight years, these hope that voters will forget about who caused this mess and IT WAS THE REPUBLICANS, in the hall, with the candlestick. This is why so many Republicans are not running for office any longer because the handwriting is on the wall. Either Republicans remain mired as the minority party or they face the wrath of public discord. Not a nice future for the Republicans!

    February 12, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  13. Ted

    I love these cute, uneducated people such as JP.
    The American ReRevolution? Lol!

    February 12, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  14. Ghost

    JP, that sounds like traitorous talk. Believe me, if there was gonna be a revolution anytime soon, it would've been over the last guy.

    Question for all you nay sayers. If all this works, will you re-join the Union or stay in the United State of Alaska?

    February 12, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  15. Leonard

    New Hampshire may not be open, but it's going blue in 2010!

    February 12, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  16. Jimmy

    I think that the formula of a Dem President with a Republican congress worked pretty well in the 90s. It scares me to think of one party having absolute power. Nancy Pelosi doesn't need anymore power to change the US into California!

    February 12, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  17. globalgroove

    My goodness you Republicans are a bitter lot. What part of we need 'CHANGE' don't you get??? And to Romney2012, I made an appointment today to see my dermatologist...first appointment is in September....my point is, even with our current health care system you still have to wait....God forbid you ever have a heart attack and have to lay on a gurney for 3 days in the ER...I did and it was not fun.

    February 12, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  18. Expat in Canada

    "The Democrats are sooooooo determined to destroy this country…….but 2010 may not be as rosey for them as they think. B.O. get old after a while."

    Seriously, look at where we were in 2000 and where are now and tell us again with a straight face that the Democrats are the one destroying the country.

    February 12, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  19. Typical White Person

    Pride goeth before the fall...

    February 12, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  20. Jeffrey in Georgia

    It's all up to the Democrats. They won in '06 and '08 because the Republicans continued to cling to an insane hybrid philosophy in which the worst parts of conservative and liberal thought were combined, and we had ample proof that such a philosophy does not work. Republicans refuse to return to the conservative roots they claim to have, so they remain horrible candidates. The question becomes: Are the Democrats any better?

    The Democrats had two years of congressional control under a Republican president, and they proved that they were just as useless. However, to give them the benefit of the doubt, President Bush wielded executive power like a sledgehammer. So now we're going to give them two years of a majority in congress with a Democrat President. It's quite honestly all up to them. By the election in 2010 we will know if the Democrats are the saviors they claimed to be, or if both parties have become parasites to our nation.

    Of course the Republicans could surprise me and actually reconsider their platform, changing it to something that makes some amount of sense, but given the fact that they seem to have chosen Rush Limbaugh as their new spokesman I highly doubt that will happen.

    February 12, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  21. David in Bethlehem, PA

    Let's see how we're doing at the end of 2009 before counting the 2010 ballots.

    This is exactly the kind of political BS that opened the door to the mess we now face. Stop worrying about the "party" and focus instead on the people of this nation who need your help today.

    If you can't manage that, 2010 won't matter..................

    February 12, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  22. Peggy

    It seems that the reason our country is letting thieves and hoodlums...ie...bankers are allowed to make their own rules is that all our polititions think about is the next election and the next and the next.....next.....next.....next..... That's so pathetic.

    February 12, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |

    Unstimulated said

    Obstruction of injustice is a noble act.

    so where were YOU for the last EIGHT YEARS OF INJUSTICE???

    or is your NOBILITY conveniently brand new ???

    February 12, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  24. Mike

    A reply for the patriot guy.
    Hoovers party and the the party which distroyed the US once (1929 – Great Depression) and almost distoyed the US for a second time (Bush 2008) is the GOP

    February 12, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  25. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia in CA

    Go get them all!!

    February 12, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23